Friday, May 12, 2023

FRIDAY MUSIC: The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, by JD

The Penguin Cafe Orchestra (PCO) were an avant-pop band led by English guitarist Simon Jeffes. Co-founded with cellist Helen Liebmann, it toured extensively during the 1980s and 1990s. The band's sound is not easily categorized, having elements of exuberant folk music and a minimalist aesthetic occasionally reminiscent of composers such as Philip Glass.

Simon Jeffes died in 1997 and here his son explains the origin of the 'orchestra' and its music -

“My father, Simon Jeffes, was in the south of France in 1972-73, where he got terrible food poisoning from some bad shellfish and spent 3 or 4 days with a terrible fever. During this, he had very vivid waking dream – a nightmare vision of the near future – where everyone lived in big concrete blocks and spent their lives looking into screens. There was a big camera in the corner of everyone’s room, an eye looking down at them. In one room there was a couple making love lovelessly, while in another there was a musician sat at a vast array of equipment but with headphones on so there was no actual music in the room. This was a very disconnected de-humanising world that people had made for themselves…

"However you could reject that and look further afield, and if you went down this dusty road you would eventually find a ramshackle old building with noise and light pouring out into the dark. It’s a place you just fundamentally want to go into, and this is the Penguin Cafe. There are long tables and everyone sits together, and it’s very cheerfully chaotic. In the back there is always a band playing music that you are sure you’ve heard somewhere but you have no idea where – and that is the Penguin Cafe Orchestra – they play this music." - Arthur Jeffes

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Prelude and Yodel

SOLARIS Penguin Cafe

Birdwatching in Silent Forest (Penguin Cafe version of Cornelius track)

Penguin Cafe Orchestra Music for a Found Harmonium

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Pythagoras's Trousers

Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Beanfields

1 comment:

Doonhamer said...

First heard them when they provided the music for a very good Aussie film titled "Malcolm". Not formulaic and worth a watch.
The music was perfect for the film. After which I went hunting for their music.